THE GARFIELD HEIGHTS ALTERNATIVE JUVENILE PROGRAM; CUYAHOGA COUNTY DIVERSION PROGRAM
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
National Education Goal Number Seven states, "Every school in America will be free of drugs and violence and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning."
In order to be more responsive to this goal, the City of Heights, the Garfield Heights City Schools and the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, has developed and implemented three unique programs; the Garfield Heights Alternative Juvenile Program (AJP), the Cuyahoga County Diversion Program (CDP), and the Garfield Heights Youth, Family and Teen Services Program (GYFTS). These programs demonstrate a unique collaboration between the City of Garfield Heights, the Garfield Heights City Schools and the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division
These three programs, providing unique disciplinary alternatives, are believed to be the first programs of their kind in the Northeastern Ohio area. These programs are the direct result of the community and school districts Substance Abuse and Violence Elimination (S.A.V.E.) Task Force. The programs assist each Garfield Heights child to achieve his or her full learning and growth potential by overcoming barriers to development resulting from drug and alcohol abuse, family violence and conflict, and other destructive influences.
The program has three components. The Heights City Schools Alternative Juvenile Program (AJP) is designed to hold children accountable for their negative actions in school by issuing swift and decisive consequences and a referral to the Community Diversion Program. The Community Diversion Program (CDP) was developed for juveniles charged with first time misdemeanor crimes and status offences in order to avoid formal court action and instead utilize community resources to address problems brought to the attention of the court. Volunteer Juvenile Magistrates conduct informal hearings, review complaints and render decisions in the best interest of families and children brought before the court. The Garfield Heights Youth, Family and Teen Services Program (GYFTS), is based on the conviction that local issues are best addressed at the local community level. This program provides for early intervention adding intensive individual and group guidance services for elementary students, providing for individual assessment and referral, making treatment more accessible, and providing long-term case management and support for children and families. Children and families are referred to this program by school guidance counselors, teachers and referrals through the Alternative Juvenile Program and Community Diversion Program.
2. When was the program created and why?
The Garfield Heights City Schools Alternative Juvenile Program was implemented prior to the start of the 1996-97 school year. The Community Diversion Program was implemented in May of 1998, and the Garfield Heights Youth, Family and Teen Services Program will be implemented in September of 1998. The program representing a unique collaboration between the city, county and local school district has as its mission, goals and objectives to assist each Garfield Heights child to achieve his or her full learning and growth potential by overcoming barriers to development resulting from drug and alcohol abuse, family violence and conflict and other destructive influences in todayís society.
All three programs were developed as a direct response to the communityís expressed need to prevent destructive juvenile behavior and dysfunctional families.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
Each of these programs are subject to yearly evaluation by the Garfield Heights Board of Education, City of Garfield Heights and the Substance Abuse and Violence Elimination Task Force. The following primary questions are included in the evaluation: 1) How did the program change the behavior of at risk students?; 2) Is there a continued need for the program?; 3) Should the major components and activities of the program be continued?; and 4) Who has participated in the program?
Secondary questions include: 1) Was there a change in the behaviors of parents and children participating in the program?; 2) What was the attitude of the parents/guardians of those children participating in the program?; 3) Was there a difference in recidivism between students and adults who participated in the program and those who didnít? 4) How was the program received by the community?; and 5) Was the program cost effective?
Each year, the Garfield Heights Youth, Family and Teen Services Program must be evaluated by an outside agency with the results being reported to the Cleveland Foundation and the George Gund Foundation.
4. How is the program financed?
The Garfield Heights City Schools AJP is funded through a grant provided by the Ohio Drug and Alcohol Services Board (ODADAS) and the Garfield Heights Board of Education. The Community Diversion Program is a volunteer program provided by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, utilizing the Garfield Heights Municipal Court for hearings. The GYFTS Program receives funds from the City of Garfield Heights, the Garfield Heights Board of Education and two foundations, The Cleveland Foundation and the George Gund Foundation.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
The Substance Abuse and Violence Elimination (S.A.V.E.) Task Force, a committee representing all facets of the community, generated the idea of dealing with these local issues in a local level. The S.A.V.E. Task Force continues to monitor the program and offer suggestions and direction.
The City of Garfield Heights, under the direction of Mayor Thomas J. Longo, and the Garfield Heights City Council, have sponsored resolutions of support for this program and provide funding. The Chief of Police, Juvenile Division, works in collaboration providing referrals and assistance as needed. The community and its local media have supported these programs by providing media coverage in order to raise the level of community awareness and support for the program.
6. Contact person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.